Compelling Preaching the Topic at Clinic, Center Named in Honor of Massey

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Great Lakes

By Carl Stagner

The name James Earl Massey has become synonymous with setting the standard for many a preacher aspiring to communicate Christ with conviction and clarity. Beloved across not only the Church of God movement, but much of Christendom, the late, great “prince of preachers” offered his experienced insights on the art of sermon presentation at a national preaching clinic held at Salem Church of God just outside Dayton, Ohio, for many years. This year, hosted by the newly named James Earl Massey Center for Compelling Preaching, the National Preaching Clinic is making a comeback, June 24–27, on the campus of Anderson University.

According to Anderson University, “the four-day event will feature daily sessions on how to study a text, basics of exegetical inquiry, exegetical tools for understanding, as well as sermon structures, sermon series development, and formation of a sermon. Conferences will be offered by School of Theology faculty on preaching from the Old Testament, New Testament perspectives on preaching, funeral sermons, and a class on vocal dynamics and sermon embodiment. Evening sessions will have a ‘preaching festival’ with worship and special guest preachers. Each participant will bring a sermon and have the opportunity to preach in front of a small peer group headed up by one of the Clinic faculty.”

Also well-known and beloved across numerous circles within the Church of God movement, Jeff Frymire was recruited to serve as director of the Center for Compelling Preaching. He offers some background on the formation of the Center, as well as the motivation for hosting the late June event.

Edwards Hall, the School of Theology and Christian Ministry 

“When the Eli Lilly Foundation granted the $1.25-million grant for ‘compelling preaching,’” Jeff recounts, “our grant proposal called for the creation of a Compelling Preaching Center. In early 2024, we named the Center after Dr. Massey. The grant is being administered by the Anderson University School of Theology and Christian Ministry [and] has three emphases to it: Research to Understand; Workshops to Engage; Coaching to Equip. The National Preaching Clinic is a yearly event hosted by AU for preachers, pastors, associate pastors, bivocational pastors, students, and anyone who has a desire to expand their skills in preaching.”

Jeff further explains that the grant will fund other training opportunities, too. Influential agencies and associations have come alongside or expressed support of the efforts already, including, but not limited to, Christian Women Connection, the National Association of the Church of God, the Hispanic Council, and Pastors’ Fellowship. Regional and state organizations have also begun to show interest in partnering with the Center for Compelling Preaching in order to bring representation to local events and camp meetings and conduct conferences and workshops. To date, the Center for Compelling Preaching has held conferences with the Church of God in Missouri and is scheduled for conferences/workshops in South Georgia (with the Global Methodists) in both July and August; West Virginia in November, and the Carolinas in early 2025. Jeff explains that “the Coaching to Equip sessions will start in 2025 and the Research book/materials into the state of preaching in the Church of God movement will be a multi-year experience from 2025 to 2028.”

Bringing back to life the National Preaching Clinic that Dr. Massey facilitated follows his structure, also: “Teaching on how to study a text; develop a sermon; explore sermon structures. In addition we will conferences on biblical sermon development from both the Old and New Testaments; practical theology conferences on funeral preaching and performance issues in preaching; a panel discussion on African-American preaching, Women’s issues in preaching; Hispanic needs in preaching.”

At this juncture in the life and history of the Church of God movement, it matters greatly that ministers consider the art of preaching itself as worthy of study and improvement. In a rapidly changing church culture, when we see changing forms and some who might dismiss preaching as outdated and old-fashioned, and be further tempted to exchange preaching for more singing, or perhaps an emphasis on other communication forms like interviews and roundtable discussion, Jeff remains enthusiastic about the time-tested role of preaching in the church today—and with good reason.

“The Bible still calls for preaching,” Jeff insists. “It was part of Jesus’ call (Luke 4:43); it was part of the disciples calling (Mark 3:14); and Paul recognized the centrality of preaching (Romans 10:14–15, 1 Timothy 3:16). God is still calling people to preach. This is not a sociological evaluation but a spiritual, Holy Spirit one. If God is still calling preachers, then preaching must still matter.”

Many ministers planning to attend the June clinic have been preaching for years, even several decades. The question might be asked, What makes this clinic an opportunity worth seizing for them, too? Aren’t they already experts in the art of preaching? Jeff’s response is helpful. “No one is an expert in preaching. There is always more to learn, skills that need to be refreshed, and insights to be gained. A good preacher is one who is always learning and always challenging what they have learned in order to preach with greater insight and passion.”

Ultimately, Jeff just wants to see God harness the Clinic for his purposes. “The Church is always in desperate need for preachers, for more faithful preachers,” he concludes. “Our prayer is that those who will attend will not only learn skills or develop better study methods or discover new approaches to delivery and content, but that they will also go home refreshed and renewed in their call to preach the Word. The Church of God has more preachers retiring than those feeling the call to prepare to preach. We hope this will help encourage those who feel called and prompt those who are unsure what that call looks like.”

Registration includes four meals, three books, and all the coffee and snacks one could ingest. Register online soon at https://tinyurl.com/ytvtmytz.

Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.

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